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React
CNNSI.com asked if Braves fans had any opinions on the subject. And guess what ... they did.

Click here to read a sampling of what CNNSI.com users had to say. 

 

Sports fans love to reminisce over the days that it all went wrong: the wasted draft pick, the tragic trade or the defecting hero. These may not be, by definition, the worst roster moves ever made, but they were the ones that affected us on a personal level. These are the events that caused -- and still cause -- us to sit on our bar stools and lament the cruel twists of life.

Like many younger Braves fans, CNNSI.com Associate Producer of Multimedia Douglas Barton might have a skewed perspective of Braves heartbreakers. Knowing nothing but Cy Young performances and National League pennants, you have to forgive young Braves fans for crying over spilled milk ... like trading David Justice and still winning the next four division titles. But Barton does harken back further than 1991, back to when the Braves usually had about one star and 90 losses: the late-career trades of Atlanta icons Dale Murphy and Hank Aaron; the knee-jerk acquisition of Len Barker; the constant tinkering that sent away David Justice and Jermaine Dye in 1997; and the 1998 trade that sent Denny Neagle to Cincinnati.

 
August 4,
1990 
Atlanta trades OF Dale Murphy and a player to be named later (P Tommy Greene) to Philadelphia for P Jeff Parrett and two players to be named later (OF Jim Vatcher and IF Victor Rosario)
 

Atlanta fans knew the inevitable was, well, inevitable. But still, the departure of Dale Murphy was a complete shock.

Dale Murphy
Dale Murphy was a stalwart on the field and in the Atlanta community. Allen Steele/Allsport
 
The Murph, on hobbled knees, was traded from Atlanta to Philadelphia after quiet negotiations. The two-time National League MVP bore the hopes of the city from 1976-90, when powder-blue uniforms and losses were the status quo. Because Hank Aaron started his career as a Milwaukee Brave, Murphy owns virtually every
Atlanta Braves career hitting record as a seven-time All-Star. His three-run homers and outfield hustle carried the birth of TBS and gave the SuperStation a legitimate star attraction during its fledgling years.

Ironically, it was the end of Murphy's days in Atlanta that gave way to the success of the '90s. Young star David Justice fumed over starting 1990 at first base while Murphy's production declined in right field. Moving Murphy to Philadelphia installed Justice into right field and propelled him to Rookie of the Year honors after hitting 28 homers, which helped set the stage for '91.

Murphy and Tommy Greene were shipped to Philadelphia for Jeff Parrett, Jim Vatcher and Victor Rosario, none of whom spent more than one season in Atlanta. Not retiring the Murph as a Brave, though, still stands as one of the greatest heartbreakers for Atlanta fans.

  Murphy's Law Still Plagues the Braves
San Diego Union-Tribune -- August 8, 1990
By Jay Posner

Surprisingly, there was nothing in the form of an organized protest of the Murphy trade. No banners, no epithets screamed at manager Bobby Cox, the man who pulled off the trade Friday.

The only hint of discord came when Jeff Parrett, the key player acquired for Murphy, walked the first batter he faced. Several fans chanted "Mur-phy, Mur-phy, Mur-phy."

That's understandable. Maybe he was hitting only .232 this year, but for the last dozen years Murphy was the Atlanta Braves. Not only was he the team's best player for most of that time, but his presence extended off the field. A Braves official estimated that Murphy received 85 percent of the team's requests for personal appearances.

"And I can't remember the last time he turned one down," said Jim Schultz, Braves director of public relations.

Even Cox says he will "never, never, never, never" run across a nicer man in baseball than Murphy. and about a month ago he informed Cox that he was planning to leave Atlanta. If the Braves wanted anything in return for Murphy, they had to deal him.

Though he now denies anything was imminent, it was widely reported that Cox could have traded Murphy two years ago to the Padres for Sandy Alomar Jr. and two other players, or to the Mets for at least two of the following three players: Howard Johnson, Lenny Dykstra and Rick Aguilera.

On Friday, Cox settled for sending Murphy and a player to be named later (expected to be pitcher Tommy Greene) to Philadelphia in exchange for Parrett and two players to be named later (likely outfielder Jim Vatcher and shortstop Victor Rosario).

So, just like that, Murph was gone. 


  Ron Baltazar, Albuquerque, N.M.
Without question, the deal that broke my heart was the Atlanta Braves trading Dale Murphy to the Phillies for journeyman pitcher Jeff Parrett. Leading up to that day, I heard rumors of the Braves shopping Dale Murphy, and as a die-hard Braves fan, I didn't want to believe it. And when it happened, I was so heart-broken, I almost cried. Dale Murphy WAS the Atlanta Braves in the 80s. He was a model citizen the represented what was good about baseball. He never complained, and was a professional throughout his career. Even though Muph went on to play for few more years, he'll always be a Brave in my heart. 

 

November 2,
1974 
Atlanta trades OF Hank Aaron to Milwaukee for OF Dave May and P Roger Alexander
 

  Hank Aaron cover
Hank Aaron passed Babe Ruth in April of '74 ... and was traded to Milwaukee after the season. Neil Leifer/Sports Illustrated
Hank Aaron belonged to Milwaukee long before he belonged to Atlanta, but more than anything he belonged to the Braves. Just months after finishing his long quest to break Babe Ruth's record, the Braves shipped him to the Brewers to finish his career in Milwaukee.

The trade is inconsequential in the history of the franchise's wins and losses, but Atlanta fans never thought they wouldn't be a part of Aaron's retirement.

Aaron still lives in the Atlanta area, and has always remained close with the Braves organization.

 
August 23,
1983 
Atlanta trades OF Brett Butler, 3B Brook Jacoby,
P Nick Behenna and $150,000 to Cleveland for P Len Barker
 
In an era of dark days, this ranks among the darkest in the late 1980s. Atlanta packaged top-prospect/outfielder Brett Butler, promising third baseman Brook Jacoby, pitcher Nick Behenna and $150,000 for mediocre pitcher Len Barker, who had cloaked an 8-13 record by firing a no-hitter that season. The trade was one of the reasons Atlanta suffered a 404-562 record from 1984-89. Barker, a one-time All-Star, injured his arm six games into the '84 season and finished with just a 10-20 record in three seasons as a Brave.

  Brett Butler
Leadoff hitters like Brett Butler don't come around too often. Stephen Dunn /Allsport
Butler, on the other hand, is the franchise's what-could-have-been player. A .290 hitter over 17 big league seasons, he stole 558 career bases, scored 1,359 runs and was the epitome of a clubhouse leader. In his prime, 1991-93, he averaged 158 games, a .301 batting average, 92 runs scored and 39 stolen bases during a time when Atlanta was close, but couldn't quite grasp the World Series trophy.

Every Atlanta fan is left to wonder what Butler could have contributed as the table setter when the Braves were perennial NL pennant owners during the early '90s. Bringing in Otis Nixon and Deion Sanders with their ensuing baggage wouldn't have been necessary.

 
March 3,
1997 
Atlanta trades OF David Justice and OF Marquis Grissom to Cleveland for OF Kenny Lofton and P Alan Embree
March 5,
1997 
Atlanta trades OF Jermaine Dye and P Jamie Walker to Kansas City for OF Michael Tucker and 2B Keith Lockhart
 

  David Justice  
David Justice ushered in the sucess of the '90s, then capped it with his Series-clinching homer in '95. Otto Greule Jr.,
Rick Stewart/Allsport

 
Braves fans
After a decade of golden moves by GM John Schuerholz, these two trades in three days did a lot to tarnish it all.

First, Schuerholz moved two-time All-Star rightfielder David Justice and native son center fielder Marquis Grissom to Cleveland for center fielder Kenny Lofton and pitcher Alan Embree.

Justice didn't earn any points for chastising Atlanta fans in the middle of the World Series, but he more than made amends with his heroics in the '95 championship. Lofton was brought in to replace Grissom as the leadoff hitter and center fielder. He battled injuries and never felt at home in Atlanta or the National League despite hitting .333. He was back in Cleveland a year later.

Embree was a much-needed left arm to a right-handed bullpen but he, too, never panned out.

Two days after the Justice trade, Jermaine Dye was packaged to Kansas City for Michael Tucker, who was to patrol right field for the next 10 years. But Tucker never hit with consistency or power and was later traded to Cincinnati. Dye had 12 home runs with 37 RBI in 98 games during 1996 as a Brave, but didn't blossom until the 1999 season with Kansas City. He was voted an All-Star in 2000 and hit .321 with 33 home runs and 119 RBI.

What the Braves wouldn't give to have him hitting behind Andruw and Chipper now.

  In a Cold Deal, Sentimentality Not Thrown In
Atlanta Journal and Constitution -- March 4, 1997
By Steve Hummer

Knowing that baseball runs a cold-blooded shop still didn't make Tuesday morning any easier.

Yes, this is business. Yes, difficult, money-driven decisions have been percolating all spring. But nothing quite prepared a person for the way the Braves downsized this breezy morning.

David Justice had been bracing for months for this day. Then, when it came, he wore the face of someone just flooded out of his home. He spoke of a cloud settling over his former clubhouse. He was as joyless as a man presiding over his own wake.

He wasn't the only mourner. "Everybody's bummed," said a none-too- chipper Chipper Jones. This was the break-up of a very functional family. 


 
  Tim, Anniston, Ala.
This may not be a big deal to most, but when David Justice was traded away from the Braves to the Indians, it killed me. I still don't understand what we were doing and why we get rid of the man that made the Braves what they are today. So what's the rule? You win us a World Series and you get MVP, so in turn we trade you? And not only to looe Justice but to get played by Kenny Lofton like he did. I loved Justice.. he was a great team player and he was the epitome of the Braves organization. And it stunk to see him help the Yankees win the title this past year. He is such a great player. Is it a coincidence that when we traded him, we didn't repeat nor have we won one since. Just a thought for the Braves. 
 
 
Adam Forte, Brentwood, Tenn.
In a perfect world Grissom and Justice would be with the Braves this coming year, with the Braves looking to get their fifth straight title. Also, if your reading this, John Schuerholz, see if you can talk The Lemmer (Mark Lemke) out of retirement. 

 
November 10,
1998 
Braves trade P Denny Neagle, OF Michael Tucker and P Rob Bell to Cincinnati for 2B Bret Boone and P Mike Remlinger
 

The Braves, at the zenith of their '90s stockpile of arms, traded No. 4 starter Denny Neagle, outfielder Michael Tucker and pitching top-prospect Rob Bell for immediate help in the middle infield by acquiring second baseman Brett Boone and reliever Mike Remlinger. It was one of the few times that the Braves were leveraged in a trade in the '90s and came out on the short end of the stick.

  Denny Neagle
Denny Neagle was good while he lasted, which wasn't long enough for Braves fans. Doug Pensinger/Allsport
Neagle went 20-5 in 1997 and 16-11 in '98 and had become a luxury on a staff whose top three hurlers were then baseball's best. Tucker hadn't played up to Braves productivity standards at the plate and also became expendable. The key in the deal for the Reds was Bell, whom at the time was touted as the next coming of John Smoltz with Darryl Kile's curveball. The Braves needed to plug a hole a second base and thought they had a sure thing in Boone.

Boone had led NL second baseman in fielding percentage from 1995-97 and was the '97 gold glove winner. He punctuated a career year in '98 by hitting 24 home runs with 95 RBI to send his bargaining worth sky high for the Reds. After coming to Atlanta, though, he looked more like a church league softball player. A free swinger, he struck out a career-high 112 times while batting just .252. He hit 20 home runs with 63 RBI, but left that many on base as well. His fielding took a substantial dive with 13 errors and after the season he demanded his salary be almost doubled. The Atlanta front office sent him with Ryan Klesko to San Diego for Quilvio Veras and Reggie Sanders.

Remlinger has been stout in the Braves bullpen, going 10-1 in '99 and 5-3 with 12 saves in 2000 to help Atlanta lead the big leagues in that category. The jury is still out on Bell, who went 7-8 a season ago, but still has a right arm full of potential.

  Did Braves get Their Money's Worth in Deal?
Atlanta Journal and Constitution -- November 12, 1998
By Tim Tucker

Reading between the lines of the Braves-Reds trade: "Baseball players are like the stock market," Cincinnati general manager Jim Bowden says, "and Bret's at his highest value." In Wall Street parlance, the Reds sold high.

Nine teams had expressed interest in Bret Boone, according to Bowden, and the Reds were willing to trade him only if someone would overpay. The Braves overpaid.

A recent 20-game winner (Denny Neagle), a serviceable outfielder (Michael Tucker) and an outstanding pitching prospect (Rob Bell) represent quite a bounty for a slick-fielding, unpredictable-hitting second baseman (Boone) and a journeyman left-handed pitcher (Mike Remlinger).

The only mitigating factor is that the Braves dealt from an area of excess, pitching, to address an area of dire need, second base.

Boone would have been a much better buy a year ago, when his stock was at an all-time low. He had a dismal offensive season in '97, and the Reds were so eager to unload his four-year, $11.4-million contract that they did not protect him from the expansion draft. But Tampa Bay and Arizona passed on him, believing --- along with everyone else --- that his contract was too lavish. 


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